August 29th, 2021 Last Updated on: August 30th, 2021
Irene Bedard has made her share of appearances on the big screen.
You may have even heard her voice in TV shows, movies, and video games. Perhaps you've seen her in the news from time to time. She is beautiful, talented and intelligent.
But what else do you know about Irene Bedard?
Who is the woman behind the voice of Pocahontas?
Irene Bedard is an Anchorage-born Native and the daughter of an Inupiat Eskimo and a French Canadian/Cree. Koyuk is the Native village to which she belongs, which is a federally recognized tribe in Nome, Alaska.
After her high school graduation in 1985, Bedard began her studies at the University of The Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she studied musical theater—and this is where her love for the arts started to develop.
When she was young, she had the opportunity to meet the first indigenous Oscar winner, songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. This had a profound impact on Irene Bedard.
“She was the only Native I remembered growing up, aside from those in John Wayne movies,” Bedard told Emmy Magazine. “It seemed like we were the bad guys, and it was disheartening because everyone wanted to be a cowboy.”
As she pursued her dream to do theater, continuing to appear in stage productions with a Native American ensemble, she got an agent and started going out on auditions.
Bedard’s artistic passage officially began in 1994 when she landed her first acting job in the television adaptation of “Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee,” where she played a Native character named Mary Crow Dog.
Acting in “Lakota Woman” was a pivotal moment in her acting career. Bedard won a Golden Globe for best actress for the role she played in the show that depicted true events of the 1970s standoff between Native citizens and the US government at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
She then was chosen to play a Native woman in the Candian-American historical drama/action-adventure film “Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale” with fellow Native American actor Adam Beach.
After this role, Bedard immediately was chosen for even more high-profile roles, including one that we all know too well—Pocahontas.
Irene Bedard does Disney
Just after her roles in “Wounded Knee” and “Squanto,” the Disney animated film, “Pocahontas,” came to theaters in 1995. Bedard was not only chosen to play the beautiful voice of Pocahontas, but she was also a physical model for the actual character.
This movie made waves in the industry and around America as people finally were able to watch a Disney movie with the main character as a woman of color. This was also the first time that a Native woman was the center of it all in an animated film.
Not only was Pocahontas a woman—she was a strong, fierce, independent, smart, and tactical woman. Albeit being an animated character and a vague historical personality in children’s eyes, during that time, Pocahontas became someone young girls wanted to be. It was out with the silly, helpless Caucasian princesses who needed a prince to rescue them and in with a woman who would take matters into her own hands.
Her voice was angelic and powerful at the same time, which was something new for Disney.
It was time for a change and Bedard helped put it in motion.
Irene Bedard’s post-Disney career
Bedard didn’t stop there.
Since her Disney debut, she has played over 60 characters (physical and voice) in television shows, movies, and video games. Some of her most popular include:
- “Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World”
- “Into the West”
- “The Spectacular Spider-Man”
- “The Mist”
- “Ralph Breaks the Internet”
- “The Stand”
See a full list of her filmography here.
On top of her film career, Bedard was in a very popular and iconic music video with Jay-Z and Beyonce called “Family Feud.”
She also has various projects in development—so we’ll see her again soon!
Image Credit / PageSix
Not everything in Bedard’s career was rainbows and roses.
In 2020–the police were called on Bedard on two separate occasions.
The first incident occurred in Beavercreek, Ohio, on a Friday night when police were called to respond to a report of domestic violence. Reports say that Bedard was found with a belt in her hand, intoxicated, and in a rage toward her ex-husband and her son at his house.
The next incident took place only a few days later (after she posted bond for the first arrest) at a hotel in Beavercreek where she allegedly was harassing a front desk clerk. Bedard became combative with police, which landed her in cuffs once again.
Bedard surely was mortified by her behavior, which quickly became public knowledge and all over the news, including TMZ, which specializes in chronicling celebrity meltdowns.
Since then, she has moved along with life and is continuing to film projects that should come to fruition in the next year or so.
What Irene Bedard is doing now
Despite her recent shortcomings, Bedard is a strong and resilient indigenous woman who made it in the film and music industry and who showed America what a true Native woman is all about. She has inspired many girls and women within Native communities and beyond to be confident with who they are and that no matter what and no matter where they come from, they can achieve their goals.
Follow her on adventures, learn about upcoming and exciting projects, and find out what it means to be the voice behind Pocahontas.
Featured image credit: Emmys
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